Star Lake Musicamp has long been one of the pillar events for the USA Eastern Territory and a place where people have come to improve their musical skills, spend time in fellowship and learning and growing in the word of God. This year Star Lake Musicamp (SLMC) turned 80 years old and the same expectations were in place for this camp and we would not be let down or disappointed. Camp director Ron Waiksnoris says this, “The 80th year of Star Lake Musicamp was a reminder to me that God continues to bless us with sensitive, committed young Christian musicians. Their energy and focus were very impressive all week.”

One of the long standing traditions of SLMC is that special guest conductors are brought in each and every year. This year we were pleased to have with us Andrew & Stella Mackereth from the United Kingdom & Republic of Ireland Territory. Andrew is an educator back home and he fit right in with all the students and faculty at camp. Ron Waiksnoris says this about Andrew, “Andrew Mackereth connected with the campers in a special way. His devotions each morning were creative and thematic. His music was exciting. Both Andrew and Stella Mackereth were very “special guests.”

While most of the time at camp is spent in rehearsals, classes or devotions just like every other music camp in The Salvation Army, there are a few things to highlight that made Star Lake Musicamp 2015 special.

The opening night of every camp is pretty similar in that you generally have to welcome the students and lay the groundwork and rules for the week ahead. The last few years we had a special presentation of the rules for camp. This year we were led through the rules of camp in a “Slow Jam” (Jimmy Fallon Style – visit youtube… its funny!) by Greg Tuck and Jason Collier with a special guest appearance from Commissioner Barry Swanson. I am not entirely sure if they remember all the rules throughout the week but we certainly keep their attention during this meeting.

The second night of camp featured a concert by Summer Brass (summer mission team featuring brass musicians from around the territory). Items featured on this concert were Ein Feste Burg (Mackereth), Make His Praise Glorious (arr. Gordon), Music-Maker (Peter Graham), Sing Praises (Gordon) and None Like You (Jones) and many more. The group played wonderfully and set the stage for some great performances for the rest of the week. This night also featured a powerful testimony from Abigail Irwin who also presented He’s Always Been Faithful (arr. Himes). On this night we also said goodbye to Adam & Laura Fyn who have been members of the New York Staff Band and would be leaving for the College for Officer Training in the USA Western Territory.

Soloist’s Night for us this year happened in the form of a dinner theater/formal night where everyone was able to enjoy dinner while also enjoying performances from both the students and faculty. This was also a special night for Andrew & Stella Mackereth as this was their 25th wedding anniversary. What a way to celebrate 25 years… with two hundred of your closest friends. This was a great night with many wonderful performances by students and faculty alike.

The first public performance of the week is “Preview Festival” where each of the groups would be to present what they had learned in the first few days of camp. Highlights from this night included the Ramapo Chorus singing I Sing Because I’m Happy (Rollo Dilworth) led by Jason Collier, the Tabernacle Chorus sing Love Lifted Me (Chelsea Pasco) led by Erik Jones, Philip Fisher from the ISB playing Unfailing Love (Ruben Schmidt) and the Star Lake Band & Chorus presenting compositions by our guest, Sin Limite (Band), God Unconquered (Chorus) and Witnesses (Band). This was a wonderful night and set the bar very high for the rest of the week.

Each year we try to get all the students and faculty off of camp at least once and this year we were privileged to be able to take all the students and faculty on a boat cruise around Manhattan. We were blessed with wonderful weather and a perfect day to get out on the Hudson River and relax. After returning to camp for a few more classes we spent Thursday evening in worship reflecting on the events of the week. We were once again blessed to be led through this time by Doug Berry and the SLMC worship band. We were also privileged to have Colonel Richard Munn with us to share the word. This was a beautiful night of worship and reflection and was evident that the spirit of the Lord was in this place and moving in a powerful way. Many thanks to Doug and Colonel Munn for leading us.

Our Grand Finale Festival was held on Saturday evening at Star Lake Camp and is always a great evening with many guests including many alumni of the camp. A special note about the concert this year is that this was the first ever concert at Star Lake Musicamp that has been livestreamed. This was highly successful and at the last count we have had over 5000 views ( Highlights from the night included the Pequannock Band playing The Challenge of Service (Leslie Condon) led by Jeff Barrington, the Tabernacle Chorus singing Bound for the Promised Land (Norman Bearcroft) led by Erik Jones, the Appalachian Band playing Road to Run (Paul Lovatt-Cooper) led by Gordon Ward, a vocal solo by Rachel Gray from the ISS and the Star Lake Band playing Deus Invictus – God Unconquered (Andrew Mackereth) led by Andrew Mackereth. Another great night at SLMC with a wonderfully supportive audience.

This is by no means everything that happened but hopefully helps you to get a glimpse of what happened at camp this year. Special thanks to our guest Andrew Mackereth and camp director Ronald Waiksnoris for a wonderful week of praising the Lord through music.

“The 80th year of Star Lake Musicamp was a reminder to me that God continues to bless us with sensitive, committed young Christian musicians. Their energy and focus were very impressive all week.”

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